By Jill Tham
So, which room is it in your house? You know, the one that makes you cringe each time you walk into it? The one you try to keep your guests out of. Every household has one. For this family of five it is the main floor bathroom. The walls are bare and the counter top will instantly transport you to the early 1990s. The space lacks any kind of style or inviting décor. After dealing with two flooded basements and the construction of a deck, fence and driveway, it is no surprise that these homeowners haven’t had the time or the energy to tackle the thorn in their side.
With two adults and three small children, the main floor bathroom sees more action than the Vegas Strip. It is a place for brushing teeth in the morning, last minute make-up and Princess Elsa braids. It is the first aid station, the potty training room, and on the weekend, with a little help from a flashlight or two, it is transformed into a planetarium. With the hand towel always on the floor, globs of toothpaste on the counter, and hair ties littered everywhere, there is only one word that can be used to describe this area of the home – disaster. How can one space serve all? This bathroom needs to be a place that is kid friendly, yet has adult appeal.
Desiring a place that is both practical and appealing, the homeowners enlisted the help of Wendi Pelfrey, Interior Designer and owner of That’s Fab Design. From charming to glamorous, That’s Fab Design has been imagining and creating alluring designs in and around the Niagara Region since 2006. “I studied Interior design and I worked with local builders for many years. I always wanted my own business and one day I decided to go for it.” says Pelfrey.
Pelfrey, a former professor with the Interior Design program at Niagara College, ON, keeps up to date on the latest trends by actively participating in design shows and networking with other designers. Pelfrey confesses that every so often she seeks inspiration at HOUZZ.com, the largest collection of interior design and decorating ideas on the Internet, featuring over 100,000 photographs of exquisite designs to choose from.
Pelfrey is skilled at designing all types of rooms, but admits her favourite spaces to work with are bedrooms and entire homes. “I like designing model homes and coordinating every room to flow from one space to another,” she explains. With 25 years in the business, it’s no surprise she is an award winning designer. Pelfrey was the recipient of the 2013 Best Custom Designed Home from Niagara Home Builder’s Association for “Something’s Gotta Give,” in Wainfleet, ON and 2011 Best Interior Decorating Model Home/Suite awarded from DRT Custom Homes and Renovations for “The Hamlin” in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON. Regardless of the size or budget of the project, Pelfrey treats each and every client with the same degree of attention, effort and enthusiasm.
What are some of Pelfrey’s many secrets to staying on top of design challenges? “I am extremely organized. I take an iPad with me to every client meeting and when I go shopping,” Pelfrey states. “Working with great trades people and having on-going conversations with them is the key. As a homeowner working with a contractor it’s communication, communication, communication.” No project would be complete without a few snags and setbacks along the way, which Pelfrey expects and plans for. “I love the challenge that having my own business brings. I work well under pressure,” she says adding that the last minute snags don’t frazzle her. “Electrical issues and material delays pose the biggest issues. I use a lot of wallpaper in my designs and it always seems to be on back order or it comes in damaged,” Pelfrey says. This is where being organized helps her to avoid setbacks; she shops and scouts out potential pieces and orders materials in advance.
While prepping the walls for painting, it was discovered the wiring for the light fixture was not centered over the vanity. This posed the biggest challenge with the renovation. “I had to re-think the design and select a light that was on a bar in order to center the fixture,” says Pelfrey. This modern chic light from Home Lighting in Niagara Falls, ON, adds flair to the space, while the bubbles imprinted in its face keep in line with the beach theme.
For the walls of the restroom, Pelfrey chose Benjamin Moore colour of the year, Breath of Fresh Air, and complimented it with Clay Beige on the ceiling. “Light and airy colours are in for this season. It is not only beige and white, but a splash of colour,” says Pelfrey. “Painting the ceiling adds interest and ties in with the theme I was after,” states Pelfrey. “Ceilings have been white forever, I sometimes like to consider it as another wall.”
Although being a designer gives Pelfrey access to exclusive stores that are not open to the general public, she is an expert at finding great pieces in everyday places. She often chooses items from local places, big and small, situated right in your back yard. For this design, Pelfrey chose the ladder and shadow boxes from Ikea, while the glass containers and wicker baskets were purchased from Target. “These selections are a fun way to provide storage for all of the family’s essential toiletries like creams, baby wipes and band aids,” says Pelfrey. The glass twine jugs, wicker baskets, and rope balls are from the Nate Berkus Nautical line at Target and coordinate perfectly with the theme of the bathroom.
Her secret to finding treasures to fit nicely with her themes is to “look where you least expect it.” When the initial mirror Pelfrey selected for above the vanity was too large, she thought outside of the box and found a mirror resembling a porthole at a locally family run establishment, Allan’s Landscaping Supply Depot and Garden Centre. “Don’t exclude certain shops because you never know what you will find there,” adds Pelfrey.
While searching for the perfect works of art to finish off a room, Pelfrey acknowledges the amount of thought and vision that is required to make the space complete. “Art is personal. Selecting the right pieces helps to develop the theme of the space. For this bathroom, I chose a Sand dollar picture from Home Sense as it adds an additional splash of colour,” she says. Pelfrey takes the splash of colour concept to a new level as she is often referred to as the designer with the pink hair– characteristic of her creative personality and confidence. “I love the colour pink, it is my signature piece. My hairdresser put it in my hair and it has stuck with me,” recalls Pelfrey.
Pelfrey offers this advice to individuals wanting to avoid common mistakes people make when renovating and designing. “Don’t purchase furnishings before you plan the whole space. When you have bits and pieces then everything is just a mishmash. Plan it from start to finish,” she suggests.
What make it so easy for Pelfrey’s clients to jump in with both feet? Her two most endearing qualities: her enthusiasm for design and her fun-loving personality. “My clients trust me whole heartedly to take the project to completion,” she states. “I have been fortunate. All of my clients have liked what I’ve suggested.” Pelfrey certainly made this bathroom renovation enjoyable and stress free. “It’s more than just a relationship between a client and a designer. At the end of a project I have a brand new friend. That is the biggest thing that I can be proud of,” concludes Pelfrey.
“With this nautical design, I wanted a refreshing and relaxed feel. Using the beach theme just felt right when I saw the space. It’s a busy household with three small children. This space is now fun for the children, but adult friendly too. Guests will love using it,” says Pelfrey. All the homeowners need to do now is add a few Muskoka chairs, brew a fresh pot of coffee, and grab the sunscreen. You can almost smell the ocean air!
Wendi Pelfrey of That’s Fab Design can be contacted by phone at 905-327-1053 or by email at email@example.com
Birds – Bowring
Small Fish – Cobi Style
Large Fish – Home Sense
Shell – Home Sense
Glass Jars for cotton balls – Target
White foot stool – Target
Towels and bath mat – Ikea
Counter – Home Depot
Moen Faucet- Home Depot
The great jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” This was the challenge I